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Business world needs energy and knowledge

NOBODY moves faster than the Generation Xers. Those who were born between 1961 and 1981 are the first generation to create a new economy and then watch it crash – the dot.com experiment.

Gen Xers – also the first generation to find such a profound gap between their world and that of their parents – have reached adulthood to discover no career paths, few exciting options, no effective leadership, and no guarantees for any aspect of life.

When we are faced with overwhelming unknowns, we either retreat or become risk takers. The Gen Xers redefined risk and raced into their future, using their immense creative energies, their need for independence, their in-your-face gutsy behaviour and, most of all, their wish to have fun, to create a new Internet economy – dot.com was born.

Dot.com is dying. Online commerce will surely continue, but the zany, outrageously excessive dot.com companies of huge hype and little substance are falling out of cyberspace. Gen Xers love the exhilarating world of online hi-tech risks.

In February the New York Times reported that the Nasdaq 100 was still trading “at 811 times the combined earnings of the companies in the index”.

The established business world run by ageing Baby Boomers, however, requires guaranteed returns on investments.

According to the Washington Post, venture capital funding for Internet companies fell 45 per cent last year, a drop of $US6.5 billion. Boomers are nervous investors.

As hundreds of dot.coms close, tens of thousands of Gen Xers have been laid off. The trend in the job market is pragmatic and conservative.

Paul Villella, the president of tech personnel agency HireStrategy.com, said in a recent Washington Post article that, last year, 80 per cent of the technical jobs were creative and new. Now, 80 per cent are practical, no longer fun or innovative, but rather “we have to get the job done and make it work”.

The dot.com demise gives the retrenched Gen X revolutionaries two options:

p to continue out in the cold, living at the vital edge of online commerce, freebasing the boundaries of net life; or

p to move into the more traditional and safe bricks and mortar corporate world of low risks and few freefalls.

We need both.

Our ageing Baby Boomer companies definitely need the immense skills and creative energies of the Gen Xers, who can prod, push, encourage and generally embarrass the Boomers into adapting to an online world, all done with that great sense of ambition, determination, and independence of the Gen Xers.

The highly creative go-it-alone Gen Xers who choose to remain online and outside the mainstream corporate world will continue to provide us with innovations beyond our imagining.

While the gross financial excesses will seldom occur again, the flaunting of the orthodox to create new knowledge hopefully will continue.

We need both the knowledge and the energy of these dot.com Gen Xers to help us succeed in a globalised corporate world already moving at their speed, on and off line.

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